Bajrangi Bhaijaan to Baby: When content ruled the box office

The benchmark of commercial success for a film has moved from Rs 100 crore to Rs 200 crore. A few years ago content-driven films like 3 Idiots and PK have started making the cut.

Bajarangi Bhaijaan

A good-hearted Hanuman Bhakt (played by Salman Khan) takes on the responsibility of taking a lost, mute Pakistani girl (played by Harshaali Malhotra) back to her country to reunite with her parents. And his entry into Pakistan (in the film) would not have gotten him the kind of applause in theatres that Bajrangi Bhaijaan has received, a fact that is further backed by the film’s entry into the Rs 300-crore club. Since its release on July 17, the Salman Khan-starrer has set the box office on fire by becoming the highest Bollywood grosser of the year so far, and the biggest blockbuster in the actor’s two-decade long career.

Steering away from the usual masala flicks, Salman has turned heads with his affable new avatar on the silver screen. Kabir Khan has given Sooraj Barjatya’s on-screen favourite “Prem” a new twist with the name of Pavan Kumar Chaturvedi. As an honest and simple man, the character has struck the right chords with the audiences. Salman’s lovable act has not just pulled many to theatres, but has also made them choke on the emotional drama. And the heart-warming performances by Salman, Harshaali and Nawazuddin Siddiqui has only added to the magic called Bajrangi Bhaijaan.

But more than the superb performances, it is the script that has played the real hero in the film. The story of a man crossing the border just to help a little girl reunite with her parents has caught the fancy of many. And, the film hasn’t just received buckets full of love in India, but also across the border. However, the same could not be said about Salman’s previous hits like Kick, Ek Tha Tiger and Dabangg. These hits might have made it to the Rs 100- or Rs 200-crore club, but you cannot take away the fact that they were completely mindless flicks and watching them in one go can be excruciatingly painful. However, the trend of over-the-top mind-numbing flicks is not new to Bollywood fans.

It’s been seven years since Bollywood coined the term “Rs 100-crore club”. In the winter of 2008, Aamir Khan’s Ghajini hit the screens and the Hindi remake of AR Murugadoss’ Tamil film by the same name struck gold at the box office by becoming the first Bollywood film to enter the coveted club. And the newly coined word spread amongst other filmmakers and producers like forest fire. Taking a cue from Ghajini, everyone tried to dabble in this so-called “superhit formula”. Take 600gms of high-octane action, mix it with 200gms of drama and a dash of romance and garnish it with some humour. And then add the much-required spice: The special song (read: item number). And your superhit is ready. With each passing film, every filmmaker religiously used the guidelines to attract fans and it undoubtedly worked wonders for many. But with passing years, the formula was so done to death that the end result turned out to be even worse. But these mindless masala flicks somehow continued ruling the box office and the benchmark of commercial success for a film moved from Rs 100 crore to Rs 200 crore.

But winds of change began blowing a few years back with content-driven films like 3 Idiots and PK making the cut. And the positive response to these films by the audience strengthened the belief that content-driven cinema too can cast its spell on the box office. With the onset of 2015, the audience gave the content-rich scripts a fair chance. For a change, the interesting stories not just caught the fancy of the cinegoers but also raked in much moolah at the cash registers. Apart from Bajrangi Bhaijaan, here’s a list of other outstanding films that have become a hit at the box office.